Many surgeons limit elective surgical procedures that they perform on smokers because of the increase in risk of pulmonary complications, and wound healing complications, which may greatly decrease the quality of surgical results. Many studies in our scientific literature have shown that patients who smoke are as high as 12.5 times more likely to develop wound healing problems than non-smokers. In particular, patients who smoke and who have cosmetic surgery, such as breast reductions, tummy tucks, or other procedures that create skin “flaps,” are more prone to wound healing complications. If you cannot give up smoking for 4 weeks before and 4 weeks after the operation, Dr. Brown may want you to rethink your decision to have plastic surgery.
Individuals exposed to second-hand smoke, and other nicotine containing products including nicotine gum, are also at potential risk for similar complications attributable to nicotine exposure. Additionally, smoking may have a significant negative effect on anesthesia and recovery from anesthesia, with coughing and possibly increased bleeding. Individuals who are not exposed to tobacco smoke or nicotine-containing products have a significantly lower risk of this type of complication.The carbon monoxide in cigarette smoke greatly reduces the blood’s ability to carry oxygen, which is essential for wound healing. Smoking slows healing, and if a skin “flap” was created, the wound may not heal at all.